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Our Archaeological endeavors are major efforts and have increased the amount of funds that must be raised to support them. At present, our only source of support comes from friends who recognize the significance of our archaeological projects to advancing our knowledge of the Bible and its ancient Jewish context.
If you wish to make a donation to help cover costs with these efforts, you may send it to:
World of the Bible Ministries
P.O. Box 827
San Marcos, TX 78667
(please designate your gift for "Noah'sArk"or "Qumran")
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Qumran Archaeological Digs
WBM Current Archaeology Dig Update: 12th Qumran Dead Sea Scroll Cave Found by Dr. Price and Dr. Oren Gutfeld
Dr. Randall Price has just made history! During the month of January he co-directed an excavation of a cave at Qumran, site of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, and discovered the first scroll cave in over 60 years. The Dead Sea Scrolls have been called the greatest discovery of the 20th century because they contain the oldest copies of the Hebrew Bible (some written over 200 years before the birth of Christ) and writings of a Jewish sect that lived in Israel during the days of Jesus and the formation of the early church. Biblical and historical studies have never been the same since the scrolls discovery, and every translation of the Bible since 1950 has depended on these documents.
Today, universities have entire departments dedicated to the study of the scrolls. However, since 1956, no scroll cave has been found and only fragments of the scrolls have been recovered from the antiquities black market or in the hands of private collectors. Even these came largely from Bedouins, who live in this desert region, raiding the caves and looting the scroll contents inside the jars stored there. These scrolls were sold to antiquity dealers and their original location lost as the Bedouin would rarely reveal where they did their work. It was to prevent further loss of these valuable documents that the Israel Antiquities Authority launched Operation Scroll to locate new caves before the Bedouin can pillage them.
Dr. Price first discovered the cave in 2006 and has worked since then to acquire permission to excavate, raised the funds, and provided the volunteers to proceed with the dig in January of this year. Partnering with Dr. Oren Gutfeld and his assistant Ahiad Ovadi, both of the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, the excavation was the first of the Operation Scroll project. During the excavation, the lower part of the cave revealed niches cut into the walls that contained scroll jars as did a 50-foot tunnel in the back of the cave. Some 6-8 scroll jars were recovered, all having been previously broken and looted in the 1950’s (this was confirmed by the finding the heads of two rusty picks hidden in the inner recesses of the cave) along with a leather wrapping fragment and a possible papyrus fragment with no evident writing.
From 1948-1956 eleven caves were identified as scroll caves and numbered according to the order of their discovery. None were found by archaeologist with intact scroll jars containing scrolls. The archaeologist usually came on the heels of the Bedouin and recovered scroll scraps and pottery sherds left behind. The only exception to this was Cave 3 which had a single unique scroll, known as the Copper Scroll, and Cave 4, which did not have jars, but fragments of scrolls were found hidden beneath the floor of the cave. The excavation by Price and the Israeli archaeologists of a scroll cave is the first in 60 years, and scholars are now dubbing it Cave 12.
|Volunteer Information about Future Archaeological Digs:
Currently a new Qumran cave excavation is only inthe exploratory phase. Revisit this site in the future for updates
The Significance of the Qumran Plateau
Archaeological Dig for Christians
Set in time between the Old and New Testaments, the site of Qumran saw both the birth of Jesus and the birth of the Christian Church. The remains at the site contain our only witness to a Jewish priestly sect that closely parallels Christianity in many aspects. Our bone deposits - covered by ancient vessels - are unique in their connection to this sect. When DNA testing is eventually performed on these bones under the auspices of the Hebrew University, there may be able to be ascertained a connection between these bones and the Dead Sea Scrolls found in nearby caves to the Qumran Plateau.
Professor Oren Gutfeld
Dr. Randall Price
From August 5 to September 5, 2002 (and also in the summers of 2004, 2005) on behalf of Jerusalem Ministries International and the Amuta Geophysica Yisrael, Dr. Randall Price and the assistant director to the dig, Professor Oren Gutfeld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, directed a team of 40 volunteers and workers from across the United States, Germany, South Africa, New Zealand, Israel, and the West Bank to excavate at the Qumran Plateau. The dig sought to locate anomalies beneath the surface on the western side of the plateau located by subsurface radar, and to search for evidence of ancient habitation on the eastern side of the southern plateau. In 2006, Winter 2008, and Summer of 2012 Dr. Price and Dr. Gutfeld continued excavating on the Qumran Plateau by direct application of Dr. Randall Price in conjunction with Liberty University to the Israeli authorities.
From a small dig in 2002, the site of the Dead Sea Scrolls community has grown to the status of a major excavation in size, scope, and importance.
In 2004, a repository (?) was discovered with a winding passageway, storage areas, and steps leading down from the ancient surface level to the passageway. This "repository" was located below an oven (tabun) and a number of bone burials. The floor into which the passageway had been cut was marked with evidence of the earthquake that had destroyed the first phase of the community in 31 B.C. and the passageway and storage areas had been filled with fine dune sand. The storage areas, usually small circular pits cut in the floor to hold jars or larger hollows cut into the sides of the passageway, contained large pieces of broken pottery (sherds), indicating that the area had once been used to hold (or hide?) pottery vessels.
In 2005, following the passageway to the west revealed more of the repository and a new set of steps leading downward. Coming to light at the very end of the dig restricted us further exploration of the passageway, which continued beyond the limits of our excavation area.
Also explored in 2005 was an area next to the ancient settlement’s eastern wall, which separates it from the community’s cemetery with over 1,000 graves. The section of wall at the point of our excavation was collapsed and appeared to have been so from the past – but when and why?
Our dig revealed the answer: a large man-made circular pit that had been abandoned and filled in the time of the Hasmoneans (a half-century or more before the birth of Jesus). Uncovering this 2,000 year-old pit with its rich archaeological fill required careful skill on behalf of our team and discovering its original purpose will occupy scholars for years to come.
Read more of our Dig Reports in our newsletter archives.